There comes a time in many couples’ relationships when you want to make your sex life a little… spicier. Once you’ve learned how to make each others’ bodies feel good, you can fall into a real rut. Trying something new between the sheets requires trust, an open mind and lots and lots of communication. That’s where the safe word comes in — a word that both partners agree means stop. No, seriously, stop. A safe word is probably going to come into play when things are getting rough and kinky. You may not think you need one before you embark on your erotic night of fun, but in the heat of the moment, you’ll be glad you planned ahead.
Clarisse Thorn, author of BDSM & Culture: 50 Shades of Stereotype and The S&M Feminist, explains the intended use of a safe word. “When two (or more) people have a BDSM encounter together, generally they set a safe word — a word that anyone can say at any time to stop the action.”
Safe words can work for any couple, in any relationship, in any scenario or kink. It’s all about feeling relaxed in knowing you are giving your partner consent and that you can always check in to make sure everyone is digging what’s happening in a sexual encounter. There’s no way you can explore the most fulfilling and exciting parts of your sexual fantasies without making sure all partners are comfortable and happy.
The next time you get wild in the bedroom, consider one of these real safe words to use when the going gets rough.
A favorite safe word of one female Redditor, though you don’t have to say it three times.
Michael and Jan’s safe word on The Office — always a crowd-pleaser.
One Redditor says, “We wanted something guaranteed to stop anyone having a good time.”
A randomly lighthearted safe word likely to give you a chuckle.
According to Reddit, “Once you’ve hit Oklahoma, you know the good times are over.”
Described by its user as “boring and to the point.”
Because getting your partner to stop when you want to should be as easy as pie.
Safe words inspired by fruit are popular for a reason: They are unexpected and effective since you’re not likely to use them in the bedroom.
One Redditor describes the perfect traffic light safe word system, “We generally use the traffic light system (red for stop, yellow for slow down, green for keep going).”
Another great reference to a traffic stop, signaling your partner to pump the brakes.
A Reddit commenter calls the “safe word” safe word boring but effective since it is crystal clear.
Honest but firm — use it with a partner you really trust.
A version of this article was originally published in January 2015.